Arizona Coyotes Need Some Self-Reflection

Dec 21, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Edmonton Oilers left wing Milan Lucic (27) celebrates with center Mark Letestu (55) and center Connor McDavid (97) after scoring a power play goal as Arizona Coyotes goalie Mike Smith (41) looks on during the first period at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 21, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Edmonton Oilers left wing Milan Lucic (27) celebrates with center Mark Letestu (55) and center Connor McDavid (97) after scoring a power play goal as Arizona Coyotes goalie Mike Smith (41) looks on during the first period at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Arizona Coyotes continue to be inconsistent in all facets of the game. The team is in need of some serious self-reflection to turn things around.

The Arizona Coyotes came into their Wednesday night affair with the Edmonton Oilers reeling, having lost two consecutive games after playing incredibly inconsistent hockey.

Against the Calgary Flames on Monday, the team posted 15 shots in the first period, then followed that effort up with 2 in the second frame.

This happens all too often.

But the underlying problem with the team as a whole goes beyond inconsistency and penalty-taking. It has a lot to do with mismanaged lines and defensive pairings, extremely poor on-ice decision making, and atrocious special teams play.

For starters, the veterans have not been there.

Defensively, this has not been Oliver Ekman-Larsson‘s year.

Offseason acquisition Alex Goligoski has had very few sparks of the promise he was expected to bring to the team’s struggling defense. Up front, Martin Hanzal has not been impressive, Jamie McGinn has been “meh”, and Shane Doan just can’t seem to find the same gear he had last season.

The Coyotes’ best three best forwards thus far have been 35 year old Radim Vrbata and sophomore Jordan Martinook. Max Domi and Brad Richardson did well when they were in the lineup, but now both are injured.

In fact, it’s fair to say the most inconsistent player in the Arizona Coyotes’ recent history, Mike Smith, has been the most consistently good player this season, which should be setting off alarms that something is not right.

Moreover, the youth that was supposed to catapult the team upwards and out of the rebuild has been, well, mostly nonexistent.

Anthony Duclair has slumped, to put it nicely. Max Domi went out and hurt his hand in an unnecessary fightChristian Dvorak has been okay and Laurent Dauphin was sent back south on the “I-10 Express” to Tucson.

The dynamic youth the Coyotes claimed to have has been nothing more than talk, so far.

Moreover, the inability to give Dylan Strome a fair chance in the NHL was very questionable.

John Chayka and Dave Tippett gave him a game here and there with little consistency, then shipped him back to juniors. The whole saga was a case of player mismanagement, whatever your thoughts on his play when in the lineup.

The lack of trust by the coaching staff and management to let the kid play (and honestly, several of the other young players) and find a groove was part of what held him back.

To add insult to injury, after demoting Strome a rash of injuries forced John Chayka to acquire Peter Holland and Josh Jooris to band-aid the middle of the Coyotes’ lineup. Wouldn’t you rather see Dylan Strome centering Jamie McGinn and Anthony Duclair, learning and growing, instead of Holland?

The point being, the Arizona Coyotes are in need of some self-reflection, not just for this season, but for the entire rebuild.

At midnight on December 28th when the holiday trade freeze fades, the Arizona Coyotes management team needs to take a harder look at their lineup than they already have.

The organization needs to evaluate who and what is really “safe”.

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Yes, we’re talking players, but that also means in terms of coaching and management.

They need to look at which other teams are dropping in the standings (*cough* Colorado) and explore what trade options are out there.

The staff needs to reevaluate what is being emphasized to the players, and their utilization in 5v5 and special teams play. Everyone involved needs to take a look at how realistic drop/stretch passes are when it comes to trying to win hockey games, and cut them out of their game and the game plan.

The players need to step back for a second and find themselves. Management needs to take a long look at what has gone wrong, why that happened, and what can fix those faults in the long run.

And, most importantly, John Chayka needs to step out of his analytics cubicle and be an NHL GM. Right [*insert non-family friendly word*] now.

Because if this team continues to be self destructive in shots allowed, defensive turnovers, and special teams woes, they will continue to lose.

Next: Keeping Strome Could Have Prevented Recent Roster Moves

All of this rebuilding can easily culminate in the wasting away valuable years of their talented youth and creating an “Edmonton in the Desert”.

No one wants that, so everyone involved needs to buckle down and find solutions.